Speech on the Eskom Debt Relief Amendment Bill [B38–2023]
Speech by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

2023 saw South Africa devastated by the worst levels of loadshedding on record

Dec 6, 2023

House Chair,

This bill seeks to convert a R254 billion Eskom Debt Relief Package from an interest-free loan to one that will bear interest.

The debt relief package had the effect of increasing government debt substantially and debt service costs, which already are spiralling out of control.

The ACDP doubts whether Eskom will be able to meet these additional financial costs. We participated in the Eskom Inquiry with many of you members as well in the last Parliament. We know what was at the heart of the rot at Eskom. It was the ANC government. It was admitted by yourselves in the Zondo Commission. So, let’s accept responsibility and see how we can address these issues.

If one then looks at how Eskom is to meet these additional financial costs, its situation has deteriorated markedly with it reporting its largest ever financial loss at the end of October, a staggering loss of R24 billion up from R11.9 billion last year. That’s double the loss. And this, as individuals, households and businesses are devastated by the worst year of loadshedding on record.

In this regard, the ACDP welcomes that at least the courts are coming in to try to assist with the Gauteng Court – a full bench (that’s three judges) saying that power cuts are a result of Eskom and the government’s failure — that’s what the court said — and that the blackouts infringed on the basic rights of South Africans. The court ordered that essential services such as hospitals, schools and police stations, be exempt from loadshedding.

Now, the question is how that court order will be implemented, given the dire situation facing Eskom. And while the country has experienced lower levels of loadshedding recently, this seems to have been short-lived and we are now back to those higher levels of stage six.

It seems the reason for that is that Eskom has depleted its diesel budget to run the open cycle gas turbines. This is aggravating the situation. So tens of billions of rands of bailout are given to SOCs without much improvement in operations and now we see a R47 billion guarantee to Transnet — again, a further bailout that we cannot afford and where we don’t see operational improvement.

These ongoing bailouts cannot be afforded. It is time to change. It is time for a new government to implement changes and lasting changes for Eskom and other entities. It’s time to vote for the ACDP!

Thank you, Chair.

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